2019 MJBizCon Takeaways

Here are three of the many takeaways from the recent conference on Cannabis held at the Las Vegas Convention Center during MJBizCon Week, December 11-13.  The event drew marketers, business development specialists, scientists, and production personnel from all sectors of the hemp supply chain to learn and share technologies and strategies for success in the fast-moving cannabis/hemp industry. Naturally, KeyLeaf was there!

1. Edibles – the challenge of quality control

            Formulation and quality control of CBD oil are now being routinely achieved by companies in the CBD/hemp space, but formulating for CBD-infused edibles – gummies, chocolates, etc. – presents a new and different set of challenges for manufacturers. Such factors as taste and stability – not only the chemical stability of the CBD but the functional stability of the edible product so that it retains its color, and texture — are specialty areas that many companies are currently seeking solutions for.  And how do manufacturers analyze the CBD content in their gummies to ensure its accuracy?  To bolster quality control, rapid analysis systems have now been developed for accurately measuring CBD content in a variety of novel matrixes, from candy to dog treats.  This confirms that the industry is going to continue to evolve, while evolving new technology along with it.


  1. Be Nimble

As an industry, we’re far from knowing all the answers about processing in all the new markets, so processors need diversity; they need to be “nimble” and react quickly.  They need to maintain a diverse area of expertise shared amongst multifunctional teams that can move very quickly when opportunities arise in the marketplace.  For example, if a company identifies an opportunity for a bakery-based ingredient, it needs to quickly develop and validate the product.  Being nimble means that companies have a team that can set up quickly to develop a wide range of products for the marketplace.  The ability to react quickly to opportunities in the rapidly emerging CBD/hemp sector with quality products can mean the difference between success and failure of a product line, start-up, or entire company.


  1. What Lies Ahead for the Hemp/CBD industry? Unlimited growth.

While there is currently some confusion and many unanswered questions, the hemp industry is continuing to grow and is destined to make a significant impact both in the economy and in the health and wellness sectors in the next decade and beyond.  In some cases, it may be seen as a pharmaceutical, but it’s also seen as a dietary supplement, and when you look at the whole plant, hemp has application as a functional food. There are also many ingredients that we know promote health and wellness that can be blended with hemp ingredients to obtain a synergistic effect on health.  The embracing of hemp and hemp compounds by consumers in the marketplace signifies that we’re living in very exciting times, not just for the hemp industry, but for the natural health and wellness fields as well.

Ask Dr. Green: Beyond CBD Part Two

Q & A with Dr. Rick Green

President of Technology Development for KeyLeaf Life Sciences


(PART 2 OF 2)


QUESTION: You mentioned that hemp protein has some unique properties that other plant proteins don’t have.  What are some of those properties?

GREEN: A big benefit to working with hemp protein is that when effectively processed, it has a better flavor than some of the other plant-based proteins. It also has some functionality properties that are unique, and those properties depend on how you process the protein and the protein fractions. We’ve also found that hemp protein has some good emulsification properties, and there are many products that can be produced from natural emulsions.


QUESTION:  Is there anything else about hemp protein that’s unique?

GREEN: I would say hemp protein is as nutritious as any other plant protein. Hemp seeds contain approximately 30% protein, with a reasonably complete amino acid spectrum. About two thirds of hempseed protein is edestin, a highly digestible protein. All eight amino acids essential in the human diet are present, as well as others.  Hemp protein has some amino acid profiles that can be used to complement other plant proteins.  By blending it with other plant proteins you can balance the amino acid ratios and increase the nutritional value of the protein blend.


QUESTION:  What are the properties and uses of hemp oil?

GREEN: Hemp oil, which is found in the plant’s seeds, has a good omega 6 /omega 3 ratio of 3 to 1, about what is optimal for the human body. Hemp oil is of high nutritional quality because it contains good amounts of unsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid (10%–16%), linoleic acid (50%–60%), alpha-linolenic acid (20%–25%), and gamma-linolenic acid (2%–5%) Linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid are considered essential to human health. Hemp seed oil also provides several antioxidants, such as Vitamin E and a number of minerals including calcium, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, along with iron and zinc.


QUESTION: Are there uses for the oil aside from nutritional?

GREEN: Hemp oil is used in cosmetics and skin creams to promote skin health. It’s well known that hemp seed oil is a healthy oil and one of the oils that can provide some benefits for the complexion — soothing and moisturizing it.  Hemp oil is used in some cosmetic products now, but there are more to be developed as formulators become familiar with the unique properties of hemp protein and hemp oil.


QUESTION:  How much oil does the hemp seed contain?

GREEN: Up to 30 percent of the hemp seed is comprised of oil.


QUESTION: What other nutrients do we find in the hemp plant that can be extracted and monetized?

GREEN: After extracting the CBD, I believe the plant’s main asset will be the fiber from the hemp stalk. This is a very strong yet light fiber that holds significant potential for industrial applications. The industrial fiber is going to become more important as we move away from plastics to more natural solutions. There are companies right now that supplement their plastic with hemp fiber to give it strength and some biodegradability.  Some automotive companies have also produced prototypes of interior panels with hemp fiber.


QUESTION:  Does hemp have value as animal feed?

GREEN: At the moment hemp meal is undergoing testing for its suitability as feed for livestock as well as animals and pets that are not part of the food chain. Hemp certainly holds strong potential as a nutritious ingredient for animal feed.


QUESTION:  Is KeyLeaf involved in the extraction of hemp oil for industrial uses?

GREEN: We are primarily focused on hemp oil for nutritional purposes. We have also pressed hemp for industrial purposes, like machine oil and other non-food grade oils.  These industrial prototype oils have good flow properties and can be modified slightly for specific purposes; different viscosity for different uses.


QUESTION:  What other parts of the hemp plant can be profitably harvested?

DR. GREEN: The cannabinoids represent a very small percentage of the plant, so finding and monetizing additional high-value products is very advantageous for any hemp processor.  We currently have uses for virtually every part of the plant — the stalks for industrial fiber, the flowers for extraction of cannabinoids, and the seeds for protein, oil and edible fiber. With more than 25,000 hemp-based products reportedly in the marketplace, agribusiness will continue moving forward with hemp R & D programs to discover even more uses for the plant and its hundreds of high-value components.

Ask Dr. Green: Beyond CBD

Q & A with Dr. Rick Green

President of Technology Development for KeyLeaf Life Sciences

(PART 1 OF 2)

QUESTION:  In terms of consumer interest in hemp and hemp-derived products, CBD (cannabidiol) is really stealing the spotlight right now.  From your vantage point as a food ingredient scientist, what are some of the next high value hemp-derived products and ingredients that we are likely to see emerging and making a splash in the marketplace?

GREEN: We know CBD is just one of many cannabinoids. There are other molecules in the plant very similar to CBD, and they probably contribute some of the effects that we currently are attributing to CBD. We believe these other cannabinoids are going to prove very beneficial as they bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors as does CBD.  Additional clinical research will show specifically which cannabinoids and which ratios of which cannabinoids are best for addressing certain ailments.


QUESTION:  How many cannabinoids can be found in industrial hemp?

GREEN: As a natural product chemist might class them, there are more than 100 cannabinoids in hemp. In addition to these known compounds, some people also count the plant’s terpenes as cannabinoids because the terpenes contribute to the “entourage effect” – the powerful therapeutic property derived from the activity of all compounds naturally occurring in the whole hemp plant. As the interest in cannabinoids grows, researchers are finding new molecular analogues, and thus, new cannabinoids are being discovered.


QUESTION: What are hemp terpenes, and how are they being marketed?

GREEN: The terpenes give the odor and in some cases flavor to hemp products. The terpenes are derived from essential oils, and there are many good things in essential oils that provide some beneficial effects: for example, the terpene caryophyllene (specifically β-caryophyllene), which has anti-inflammatory properties.  Caryophyllene can be found in a number of herbs and spices. The essential oils are found not just in cannabis; they’re certainly present in a significant number of other plants, including black pepper, basil, and oregano. Caryophyllene and other terpenes have health benefits that we haven’t focused on yet.  The cannabis industry knows they’re there, but the consumer and most cannabis companies have been heavily focused on CBD products, which are currently leading the way as the natural dietary supplement du jour. So, if we’re asking about what is “next”, it could certainly be caryophyllene, which has demonstrated powerful anti-inflammatory properties and other health benefits.  Researchers are testing caryophyllene as an intervention for inflammatory bowel disease and preliminary results in animal studies have been promising.


QUESTION:  After CBD, do you have any prediction about which hemp-derived “CB molecule” will next come under the spotlight?

GREEN: Perhaps CBN, also known as cannabinol.


QUESTION:  Is CBN demonstrating any nutritional or medical efficacy at this point?

GREEN: It is. It works as one element in the array of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant that effectively work together to produce a benefit – CBN is purported to contribute to beneficial effects that include sedative effects, analgesic, reducing inflammation and appetite suppressant. CBN is one of the major components responsible for hemp’s entourage effect.  Researchers know that the concoction of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant works to produce good outcomes when all elements are present, but they’re only now determining how effective each specific cannabinoid in the entourage is for treating specific ailments.



QUESTION:  What other hemp-based innovations and applications should we be watching for?

GREEN: We’ve made advances in hemp protein. It has some good benefits and is quite water soluble and has applications that other plant proteins don’t have. We’re going to start seeing these hemp seed proteins coming on the market and we are also looking at potential applications for hemp fiber. There is insoluble fiber in the stalk itself that can be used for industrial applications. It’s a very strong, tough yet light fiber. I’ve seen examples where it’s been used in car consoles.  In addition to production of the cannabinoids, we have a strong R&D team focused on the development of high value co-products from hemp.  These products, such as the protein, oil, fiber and various other natural product extracts from different parts of the plant, are poised to generate significant revenues for the hemp industry. KeyLeaf’s decades of experience producing plant-based extracts and ingredients enables them to fully monetize the complete hemp plant, including each of the plant’s many high-value bio-components.

The Hemp Seed

Abundant Source of Plant-based Protein, Fat, & Fiber

The increasing demand for plant-derived sources of protein coupled with increased awareness of the role dietary proteins play in nutrition and optimal health has prompted the agri-food industry to explore non-traditional sources of protein.  Boasting excellent all-around nutritional value and superior digestibility, hemp seed protein has drawn considerable interest from both the scientific and industrial sectors. In this article, the nutritional composition and health benefits of hemp protein are reviewed.

A complete protein and more

Protein-rich hemp seed has been an important source of nutrition for many cultures for thousands of years.  Technically a nut, the seed typically contains about 25% protein, with considerable amounts of dietary fiber, high levels of iron, manganese, zinc, and magnesium.  The two chief proteins in hemp seed are albumin and Edestin.  Both proteins are readily digestible and contain significant amounts of all 9 essential amino acids. Additionally, hemp seed has very high amounts of the amino acid arginine. (1)

Hemp seed & protein efficacy

The safety and efficacy of hemp seed protein has been evaluated and is recognized by Health Canada’s Non-Prescription and Natural Health Products Directorate (NNHPD) which has assessed the evidence and has determined that hemp protein concentrate and hemp protein isolate are safe and efficacious sources of protein for use in natural health products, as per the NNHPD Workout Supplements Monograph 2016. The Monograph enables licensed natural health products to claim their hemp seed protein is a nutrition source in the maintenance of good health, helps repair and build body tissue, is a protein source for muscle protein synthesis, and assists in the building of lean muscle when combined with weight resistance training and good diet(2).

Hemp protein powder as food ingredient

Hemp-derived protein powder can also be used as an ingredient in conventional foods, baked goods, beverages, cereals, dairy products, pastas, and grain products, etc. Hemp protein powders can be used in a similar manner as flour from grains (e.g., wheat, barley, rice, corn, rye, oat) as well as dairy and soy-based protein powders.  Also, a non-dairy milk and non-dairy spreads can be produced using hemp protein powder.

Hemp seeds & essential fatty acids

Oil from the hemp seed exceeds 80% in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and is a rich source of the essential fatty acids (EFAs) linoleic acid (18:2 omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (18:3 omega-3). The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 (n6/n3) in hemp seed oil is typically between 2:1 and 3:1, the appropriate level for optimal human health.

Hemp seeds & fiber

Most of the fiber in a hemp seed lies in its outer hull or shell. However, even without the shells, hemp seeds are a good source of fiber, with three tablespoons containing approximately 1.2 g of fiber.

Looking ahead

With its complement of 9 plant-based essential proteins, heart-healthy oils, and gut-friendly dietary fiber, the tiny hemp seed is poised and ready to take its place on the front line of the plant-based food revolution.


  1. 1. “Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview”, Callaway, J.C.

Euphytica, January 2004, Volume 140, Issue 1–2, pp 65–72

2. Agency Response Letter GRAS Notice – https://www.fda.gov/media/118583/download

“Beyond the Pill”: KeyLeaf to use hemp & other plant ingredients for global health & wellness

Dr. Rick Green, President of Technology Development for KeyLeaf Life Sciences, delivered a presentation to healthcare professionals attending the biennial Health Vision 20/20 Conference Presented by the Office of Health Innovation in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  The title of the presentation was “Innovating Health Beyond the Doctors Office – The KeyLeaf Story” and the topic session was “Beyond the Pill”.


“By ‘beyond the pill’ we’re talking about looking at what lies behind the need to take a prescription pharmaceutical pill or medicine,” said Dr. Green. “Yes, we take a pill for a certain ailment, but it goes back to what caused that ailment. Maybe the way we eat, maybe the lack of dietary nutrients?  So, going ‘beyond the pill’ requires our asking, ‘what really caused the symptom that we’re now taking a pill to remedy?’ If we know the root cause of what’s causing the ailment, we may be able to give the consumer dietary options so they can delay taking that pill… or maybe they’ll never need to take the pill in the first place.”


Going “beyond the pill” includes getting the right plant-based ingredients/natural products included in your foods so that taking pharmaceutical pills and capsules becomes unnecessary.  Now that we know how to identify and stabilize thousands of ingredients and bio-actives, we can enhance the nutritional profile of your soup, salad, or entrée by ensuring we maintain the desired ingredients and bio-actives in your food.


According to Dr. Green, we are currently witnessing a major shift in the food and nutrition industries, as the food industry includes a new focus of health and wellness for consumers. He additionally pointed out that the consumer is looking for natural, clean-label foods and natural nutraceutical supplements to reduce the dependence on pharmaceuticals.  Consumers are becoming more educated and they’re taking a clinical approach to their food sources. For example, they know they can get antioxidants from blueberries and blackberries and these components may have health benefits.


“People are beginning to practice ‘personalized nutrition’ now,” Dr. Green observed.  “It’s a preventative medicine-type approach using food and diet.  You can do gene screening for any individual to get an idea of what diseases that person is individually susceptible to, so when they’re young they can start addressing that genetic predisposition through food choices to extend the time before that disease sets in.”


Thomas Edison is attributed with making a prescient statement in the latter part of the 19th Century:  He said the doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.  It’s taken more than 100 years, but thanks to decades of research and inventiveness by companies like KeyLeaf and others in the food ingredient, and health and wellness industries, the goal of global well-being is now further advanced as healthcare moves ‘beyond the pill’.

KeyLeaf Life Sciences Becomes Strategic Subsidiary of Canopy Growth Corporation

KeyLeaf Life Sciences (KeyLeaf) is pleased to announce the next stage in its relationship with strategic partner Canopy Growth Corporation (Canopy) (TSX:WEED,NYSE:CGC). KeyLeaf, a Saskatchewan based company, is becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Canopy and will play a key role in Canopy’s pursuit of leadership in cannabis extraction, purification and fractionation. This relationship will allow KeyLeaf to help shape the cannabis and hemp industry as part of a network of worldwide partners and progress KeyLeaf towards leadership in plant-based ingredients.

“This is a very exciting time for KeyLeaf,” says Dr. Rick Green, President of Intellectual Capital Generation. “Canopy has utilized KeyLeaf’s decades of success in plant-based extraction and innovation for some time and bringing our two parties closer is an indication of how successful our partnership has been. Expanding our relationship advances Saskatchewan to centre stage in the global marketplace for plant extracts and natural products.”

KeyLeaf is no stranger to innovation. KeyLeaf opened its doors in 1977 as POS Pilot Plant Corporation with a 54,000 sq. ft. research facility at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Looking to nearby canola fields for its first project, progressive thinking and advanced technology enabled KeyLeaf to fundamentally create North America’s canola oil industry overnight. KeyLeaf has since been on the cutting edge of ingredient breakthroughs for over 40 years and has established a gold standard reputation for innovation in food research, nutraceuticals, bio-based products, and now cannabis and hemp.

After completing more than 5,400 projects for clients in more than 40 countries over the past four decades, and with an additional processing facility in Batavia, Illinois, KeyLeaf has renewed its commitment to the Agri-food industry by placing the development and commercialization of high value plant-based extracts, including CBD, at the core of all activity.

As the global community demands more from plants, KeyLeaf will continue to innovate in the areas of plant-based extracts and ingredients, supplying new insights and remaining an active contributor to research communities in Saskatchewan and across the world.

For more information, on KeyLeaf Life Sciences, visit www.keyleaf.ca.

About KeyLeaf
KeyLeaf Life Sciences is a global ingredient and process technology company established over 45 years ago. Headquartered in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, KeyLeaf is recognized around the world as a trusted expert in plant-based bioprocessing. KeyLeaf has worked with over 800 companies from more than 40 countries and continues to increase Saskatchewan’s global visibility as a hub for innovation.

About Canopy Growth Corporation
Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED,NYSE:CGC) is a world-leading diversified cannabis, hemp and cannabis device company, offering distinct brands and curated cannabis varieties in dried, oil and Softgel capsule forms, as well as medical devices through Canopy Growth’s subsidiary, Storz & Bickel GMbH & Co. KG. From product and process innovation to market execution, Canopy Growth is driven by a passion for leadership and a commitment to building a world-class cannabis company one product, site and country at a time. Canopy Growth has operations in over a dozen countries across five continents.

Canopy Growth’s medical division, Spectrum Therapeutics is proudly dedicated to educating healthcare practitioners, conducting robust clinical research, and furthering the public’s understanding of cannabis, and has devoted millions of dollars toward cutting edge, commercializable research and IP development. Spectrum Therapeutics sells a range of full-spectrum products using its colour-coded classification Spectrum system as well as single cannabinoid Dronabinol under the brand Bionorica Ethics.

Canopy Growth operates retail stores across Canada under its award-winning Tweed and Tokyo Smoke banners. Tweed is a globally recognized cannabis brand which has built a large and loyal following by focusing on quality products and meaningful customer relationships.

From our historic public listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange to our continued international expansion, pride in advancing shareholder value through leadership is engrained in all we do at Canopy Growth. Canopy Growth has established partnerships with leading sector names including cannabis icons Snoop Dogg and Seth Rogen, breeding legends DNA Genetics and Green House Seeds, and Fortune 500 alcohol leader Constellation Brands, to name but a few. Canopy Growth operates eleven licensed cannabis production sites with over 4.7 million square feet of production capacity, including over one million square feet of GMP certified production space. For more information visit www.canopygrowth.com

Notice Regarding Forward Looking Statements
This news release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Often, but not always, forward-looking statements and information can be identified by the use of words such as “plans”, “expects” or “does not expect”, “is expected”, “estimates”, “intends”, “anticipates” or “does not anticipate”, or “believes”, or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved. Forward-looking statements or information involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Canopy Growth or its subsidiaries to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements or information contained in this news release. Examples of such statements include statements with respect to future product format offerings and throughput capabilities. Risks, uncertainties and other factors involved with forward-looking information could cause actual events, results, performance, prospects and opportunities to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information, including the Company’s ability to satisfy provincial sales contracts or provinces purchasing all cannabis allocated to them, and such risks contained in the Company’s annual information form dated June 27, 2018 and filed with Canadian securities regulators available on the Company’s issuer profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. Although the Company believes that the assumptions and factors used in preparing the forward-looking information or forward-looking statements in this news release are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on such information and no assurance can be given that such events will occur in the disclosed time frames or at all. The forward-looking information and forward-looking statements included in this news release are made as of the date of this news release and the Company does not undertake an obligation to publicly update such forward-looking information or forward-looking information to reflect new information, subsequent events or otherwise unless required by applicable securities laws.

For more information, please contact

KeyLeaf Contact:
Justin White
Vice-President Global Sales and Business Development
[email protected] 
(306) 978-2800

Canopy Growth Corporation Contact:
Caitlin O’Hara
Media Relations
[email protected]
(613) 291-3239

United States
Margie Adelman
Partner, Beyond Brands
[email protected]
(916) 220-3500

Preston Cicchine
Client Marketing Advisor, William Joseph Communications

12th Plant Protein Ingredients Summit 2019 – Key Takeaways

The KeyLeaf Team didn’t have to travel far to attend the 12th Plant Protein Ingredients Summit 2019 held in their hometown of Saskatoon, Canada, May 29-31.  The event, sponsored by The Netherlands-based organization Bridge2Food, was host to more than 300 companies, organizations, and entrepreneurs servicing the plant-based ingredients industry, and offered an opportunity for attendees from around the world to connect and network with their peers, apprise themselves of important new technologies and industry strategies, and explore and develop new business opportunities evolving around the increasing global demand for plant-based protein ingredients.


KeyLeaf’s Rick Green was one of the Summit’s invited speakers and gave a presentation addressing the latest innovations in plant protein processing.


KeyLeaf also participated in pre-arranged B2B meetings with companies who were potentially interested in KeyLeaf’s offerings of essential oils, algal oil, hemp ingredients, novel proteins and other ongoing developments. These meetings resulted in several promising new business opportunities.  KeyLeaf’s participation in the summit also allowed the company to reinforce its new KeyLeaf rebrand with suppliers and customers who knew them as POS before the company changed names.


Takeaways:  What we learned (or relearned) at the Summit.


  1. 1. Saskatchewan is the plant-based ingredients industry’s “best kept secret”


Home to KeyLeaf, Saskatchewan’s global plant protein industry has been growing for decades and dozens of agribusinesses have invested here. The province is the world’s top exporter of lentils and dry peas, which means agri-value companies have the supply they need right in their backyard.  Saskatchewan is a partner in Canada’s new research supercluster, Protein Industries Canada, opening up new opportunities for plant protein research and commercialization.


This summit provided Saskatchewan and Western Canada to show the world that it has built a very strong network with full vertical integration: the entire supply chain is here, right from the development of new plant varieties with lots of land available to grow these crops on at good economy scale.


  1. The Industry must figure out “sustainability”:


Summit attendees put major focus on solving the processing issues that influence sustainability in order to open the plant protein marketplace.  A growing number of consumers are demanding “clean labels” and “sustainable” plant proteins, but what does that mean?  Does it mean consumers want the industry to develop crops that require less water?  Do we need new equipment that requires less electricity?  Which crops are truly sustainable, meaning carbon neutral?  Which crops can replenish the soil with nitrogen?  And when a company announces it is “sustainable” what does that mean exactly?   Correctly defining and achieving sustainability is an opportunity and challenge for the entire industry at every level.


  1. 3. Demand for plant-based protein is out-pacing supply


KeyLeaf spoke with companies whose sales have paused due to an unavailability of plant protein.  The question this raises is, with global consumer appetites for new plant-based foods increasing, how can our industry meet the protein needs of 9 billion people in a sustainable, healthy, and environmentally friendly way?


  1. The industry’s new theme for success:Openness & Collaboration”


The Summit was very much a collaborative environment between large and small companies, entrepreneurs, and government agencies.  The KeyLeaf team experienced a real openness from all of them about sharing information and resources in an attempt to grow the industry… and that’s something that one doesn’t normally see.  We have arrived at a point in the industry where the major companies are virtually begging for more collaboration;  they know that if you can put the growers, and the food chemists and the marketers and the researchers and the packagers all together to talk on a regular basis and let them be open about their problems and needs, you’re going to wind up with a vastly better product for the consumer.


To sum up the prevailing attitude of the Summit participants: “Yes, we all have a goal to conduct viable businesses, but there is a large world to feed, it’s a big opportunity, and we all need to come together and do this.”

Leading KeyLeaf in a New Direction: An interview with KeyLeaf President and CEO Dale Kelly

On February 12, 2019, ingredient maker POS Bio Sciences announced it was pivoting away from applied contract R&D work to producing finished plant-derived ingredients under the new name, KeyLeaf.  KeyLeaf’s President and CEO Dale Kelly comments on the rebrand and the company’s new direction.

What prompted the company’s rebranding and shift in business model?

When we took the company private in 2013, we recognized that it would be very difficult to run a business doing contract R&D only, so we started down the road of creating our own ingredients based on what we learned over 40 years of R&D work.  We started to do internal R&D to develop other ingredients and we began to consider other businesses that we could spin out from the company.  We finally reached a point where we realized the need to rebrand and we renamed ourselves “KeyLeaf”.

Does the new company, KeyLeaf, still do contract R&D?

Yes, but we’re more selective now with whom we work.  In many cases, rather than trying to do all the manufacturing ourselves, we’re now partnering with R&D groups who are looking for someone to take their ingredients to a commercial level, which is our expertise.  Also, when we find companies that already have brands established where our ingredient works well, then we’ll obviously make the smart choice and partner with them. We are able to scale up from bench top to commercial production under one roof, that’s unique and rare in our industry.

What do you believe sets KeyLeaf apart from other ingredient manufacturers?

Because we’ve worked with plant materials from all over the world for nearly 5 decades and have amassed a huge database of plant-derived compounds, we often have some of the best ideas about how to take a particular ingredient from one plant and marry it with an ingredient from another plant to bring about a novel combined ingredient for use in a beverage or in an edible.  And thanks to our artificial intelligence machine learning program, “Big Data”, we can combine two plant ingredients in a computerized model that tells us exactly the kind of ingredient that will evolve, and we can accomplish this without spending the money and time to do development in the lab or in a pilot plant.  We feel that we are very unique in that respect.  There aren’t many companies around the world that have a database that’s as robust as ours.  The whole area of machine learning and artificial intelligence for ingredient development has come of age for us.

What kinds of new ingredients can we expect to see from KeyLeaf in the near term?

We have a number of ingredients in development at the moment.  One is an MCT hemp product that will be in a microencapsulated powder form, and there are applications in various industries for it.  We are in the market with our basic DHA and EPA oils and emulsions, and we’re currently building a product line that incorporates algal DHA with hemp-derived CBD.  I believe before 2019 ends we’ll be in the market with our first product combining those two ingredients.

Plant-based DHA algal oil made by your subsidiary, Algarithm, has quickly found its way into Ritual’s vegan Essentials for Women vitamin line and Virun’s O3 Omega Smoothie line.How do you account for the oil’s incredible acceptance by the natural food, beverage, and nutritional supplement industries?

Being in business for 40 years means we have a lot of very unique manufacturing knowhow.  The reason our ingredients stand out against our competitors’ is because we have developed tweaks for compounds like the omegas, where there is a concern about fishy aftertaste.  Our omegas have NO fishy aftertaste. Potential clients that comparison tested our algal oil to our competitors’ algal oil chose to become our clients in virtually every case.

Looking ahead 5 years from now, where do you see KeyLeaf as a player in the plant-based ingredient space?

KeyLeaf will continue to be an industry leader, as it has been for the past 4 decades, maintaining it’s dominance in the processing of plant-based proteins and oils while making ingredients for a healthier world.

Monetizing the Hemp Plant: Part Two

Here are a few more of the thousands of hemp-sourced products and ingredients set to fuel North American GDP as we prepare to enter a new decade:

CLOTHING and TEXTILES – Textiles made of hemp fiber are durable and resistant to stretching, holding their shape well throughout the years. Hemp clothing offers a breathable material perfect for multiple seasons (insulating during cold winter months, breathable through muggy summer times). The plant’s natural tan and taupe tones pair well with most colors, or the fabric can be dyed for a bolder look.

Tote Bags and Backpacks – Hemp fiber is quite strong (8x the tensile strength of cotton!) and perhaps the most durable of natural textile fibers. Resisting stretching and sagging, hemp textiles make for superb catch-all carriers that are often banged or beat-up.

RUGS and FLOOR COVERINGS – Non- toxic, durable and long-lasting, hemp fiber floor coverings are great for high traffic or sun-beaten areas. With just a few months to mature, hemp offers a more sustainable alternative to chemical and water-intensive fiber crops such as cotton.

FIBERBOARD – Hemp stalks contain two main types of fiber: bast, or long fibers found in the bark (skin), and hurd, or short fibers located in the core of the stem. These fibers can be used to create a mold and pest resistant hemp fiberboard that is lighter, ~2x as strong, and ~3x as elastic as wood chip particle boards.

FUEL – Organic plant matter (biomass) can be converted into a wide variety of fuels, primarily through pyrolysis, or the application of high heat with little or no air.  With a short maturation life (~4 months), effective carbon sequestration, and four times as much biomass/cellulose potential than its closest competitors (cornstalks, sugarcane, trees), hemp proves to be one of the most efficient and abundant sources of organic matter for conversion to fuel.

PLASTICS – Hemp plastics are non-toxic, biodegradable, and more sustainable than current petroleum-based methods. Hemp bio-plastic makes use of cellulose found in the stalk [bast] fibers and can even be mixed with traditional formulas for stronger composite plastic products. Standard compression and injection molding methods as well as new R&D advancements are making safer, alternative plastics feasible with a smaller ecological impact.

VEHICLES – Used for centuries to make durable canvas sails, ropes and rigging for sailing vessels, Henry Ford, (of automotive Ford fame), incorporated hemp with other plant materials to create a durable hemp plastic for the body and fenders of his early Model-T’s.  More recently, new methods of combining hemp cellulose fiber with water allows for the production of auto bodies and interior panels in virtually any shape or style, as well as scooters, skateboards, and bicycles.

Monetizing the Hemp Plant: Part One

According to statistics supplied by the Hemp Business Journal, US hemp-based product sales are on track to reach $2.6 billion by 2022 – an amount ten times greater than their 2012 level.

But it isn’t just a growing demand for hemp-sourced CBD products and other phytocannabinoids that is driving sales projections upwards.  Also ready and waiting to be monetized is hemp’s amazing arsenal of proteins, minerals, fatty acids, and fibers.

Here are just a few of the many products and ingredients derived from the whole hemp plant (roots, seeds, stalks, leaves and flowers) that are predicted to generate explosive revenues in the natural products marketplace over the next several years:

PROTEIN POWDERS and DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS – Vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters can all add a complete plant-based protein which is also rich in fiber (a one-ounce serving has ~14 grams of protein and ~4 grams of fiber). When the entire seed is used to make the protein powder, one gains many of the same perks of hemp seed oil, including 20 amino acids (all 9 of the essential amino acids), and polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

FOOD INGREDIENTS – Often consisting of the seed core (hearts), shells (hulls), and/or hemp oil, recipes containing hemp are generally rich in essential amino acids, polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6), fiber and minerals. Easy digestibility and high protein content make for a rich, plant-based ingredient suitable for many dietary restrictions (i.e. vegans, vegetarians, and those with soy or tree-nut allergies).

BEVERAGES – Hemp drinks are often derived from the hemp seed and range from energy drinks to non-dairy milk substitutes to craft ale beers.  Milk substitutes made from soaked hemp seeds contain the essential amino acids and are great sources of protein for vegans or individuals with soy and tree-nut allergies.

SOAP – For sensitive-skinned folks and vegans alike, hemp seed oil soap is particularly good for bathing because it is rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs), vitamin E, and other polyunsaturated fats soothing to the skin. Additionally, hemp soaps make excellent household cleaning agents because they contain few synthetic ingredients or damaging chemicals

Cosmetics and Skin Care Products – Hemp seed oil is often used in skin emollients and lotions because it alleviates itching, irritation, and soothes dryness. Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (3:1 ratio), it also contains other key amino and essential fatty acids (polyunsaturated). Hemp moisturizers offer an effective, natural alternative to petroleum derivatives, preservatives, synthetic fragrances and dyes.

PAPER – Hemp paper has been found in China dating back to 100 BC. Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were originally drafted on hemp paper. With 2-to-3 times more cellulose (fiber) that wood, hemp processing uses far fewer chemicals and less water. Deforestation is also mitigated with hemp inputs, as growing global demand strains the energy intensive process of turning wood pulp into paper.

DIAPERS – Although usually blended with cotton for softness and comfort, chemical-free ant-microbial hemp components boost diaper performance with about 8x the absorbency of cotton.